City Hall budget battle: Vote scheduled Friday on proposal for more police officers in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Add more cops, or try to prevent crime from happening in the first place? That's the debate brewing at City Hall in Milwaukee before a critical vote on the 2015 budget planned for Friday, November 7th. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett discussed that debate in an interview with FOX6 News.

"What I disagree with is the action taken by the Common Council to cut the number of police officers that I have added to my budget," said Mayor Barrett.

Barrett is urging the Common Council to add 12 new police officers in the 2015 budget. He says that would return the department's staffing level back to what it was two years ago. Barrett also says he's concerned about a proposed million-dollar cut to police overtime.

"You are cutting essentially 25,000 police hours. Those are house often deployed during the summer months of June, July and August when we have the most need for police officers in the street," said Barrett.

Alderman Nik Kovac says the Common Council already agreed to fill 73 vacancies in the department throughout the next year. Instead of adding 12 officers, Kovac wants to see the money go toward programs that will help prevent crime -- like summer employment opportunities in high-risk areas.

"Why would we keep throwing money at something we know isn't the key variable?" said Kovac.

Kovac says the Common Council would also release more money into the overtime budget, but only if it's needed. He says the additional oversight has nothing to do with recent controversies within the police department.

"I have complete confidence in Chief Flynn," said Kovac.

There is a vote scheduled for Friday on amendments that would fund programs proposed by the Common Council. The Mayor still has the opportunity to veto within 10 days of the vote.